Not Welcome In The Church Of England

1389349456_20131204-Selby-abbey--Leper-squintI went to church this morning.

I really wish I hadn't.

It was the annual general meeting and this is one of the main reminders in the year of my exile from the church. You see, according to the Church of England there are two types of people - clergy who are employed by the Church of England and the laity. As an ordained person without a job in the church, not even a license to officiate, I technically do not exist. I am certainly not allowed to be a member of the church. I am allowed no say in the running of the church from General Synod down to parish level. I am allowed to take communion, but then so is any baptised person, but my name is not mentioned on any list of names and it is not allowed to be. I have no stake in the church. As far as the church is concerned I have less status than a child because a child is at least a potential church member.

So, when the service was over, as everyone else went off to the parish rooms for refreshment and a chat before the meeting, I walked off alone. Not invited to the feast. An ecclesiastical anomaly. A leper, only allowed to catch glimpses of the inside of the church through the squint in its cold, thick walls.

This is a bad season for me. In two weeks time I celebrate five years of not being allowed to preside at communion. Then just over a month later it will be twenty years to the day since my ordination. Most priests celebrate this occasion with, at least, a special communion service. I am not allowed to and this really hurts.

Why this exile? Have I buggered a choirboy, committed adultery, stole from the church coffers, broken the law of the land or the law of the church? No. My unforgivable sin was to suffer from depression and be under the authority of a bishop who believed that a person who has suffered from any form of mental illness should never be a parish priest. As, no other bishop in the Church of England has ever come forward to help me I assume that this attitude is shared by all bishops. Heck, they forgive murderers, thieves and adulterers, offer them a place within. But not priests who are or have been mentally ill. We are not even welcome at the church meeting.


Not Welcome In The Church Of England — 3 Comments

  1. I still don’t understand why one of your UK readers doesn’t talk to your/any CofE bishop. If you were suffering from this status from a TEC bishop, s/he would get more than just a piece of my mind. Until they, “the Unjust Judge”, had satisfied me, I would be their biggest thorn-in-side/pebble-in-shoe NAG *ever*. I learned from my mama: when one of her kids got the (intentional) short end, she would become (her words!) “Bitchy Mom Swings Into Action!”

    In short, MP, you need a BITCH (any gender) on your side. I’m sorry a bothersome ocean prevents me being yours. UK bitches, help an MP out, please?

  2. Dear Fr Jonathan

    I am truly sorry to hear of your struggles. I think attitudes to mental challenges are changing. Tracy Emin credits her own brilliant work to the person she is.

    Though I disagree with you on much, I enjoy your music and rarely leave your site with without having had a laugh and something to think about. Well done for keeping up your internet ministry, and perhaps there is something good God has in mind for us when we are having a hard time.

    I am not sure the Apostles had or needed a license to officiate to proclaim the Good News.

    God bless and be encouraged. He is good.